July 5, 2020

Volume X, Number 187

July 03, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

COVID-19: Massachusetts Governor Announces Reopening Approach and Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards

On May 11, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a four-phase approach to reopening the Massachusetts economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and published Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards that will apply across all sectors and industries once reopening begins. Businesses and activities that provide COVID-19 Essential Services, as outlined in Governor Baker’s March 23rd Order, will continue to operate. Businesses and activities that do not provide COVID-19 essential services will remain closed through May 18, 2020, pursuant to the extension of the March 23rd Order.

Under the phased reopening plan, the Baker Administration will allow certain businesses, services, and activities to resume based on public health guidance to limit a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases. The four phases are as follows:

  • Phase 1 will be “Start:” limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions

  • Phase 2 will be “Cautious:” additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits

  • Phase 3 will be “Vigilant:” additional industries resume operations with guidance

  • Phase 4 will be the “New Normal:” development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal

Businesses and activities with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission will open in earlier phases, and reopening decisions will be influenced by public health metrics, including when the first phase of reopening begins, as well as when it is safe to move into later phases. The administration cautioned that, if public health metrics worsen, the state may need to return to an earlier phase.

In addition to the four-phase reopening plan, the administration announced that the Department of Public Health has developed Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as employees and customers begin to return to workplaces during the first phase of reopening. These new standards will apply universally to all workplaces that are open in phase one and supplement earlier guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the CDC guidelines for workspaces.

The Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards include protocols for social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting. The administration also explained that the Reopening Advisory Board is developing sector-specific safety standards that will detail how particular industries should operate upon reopening, as well as provide for limited exceptions to the mandatory standards. Those sector-specific standards are expected to be released at a later date. The phased reopening plan did not address existing interstate travel restrictions or self-quarantine requirements, which may be addressed in forthcoming guidance.

©2020 Pierce Atwood LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 133


About this Author

Kathleen Hamann White Collar Attorney Pierce Atwood Washington, DC

Kathleen Hamann is an internationally recognized authority in the field of white collar enforcement and compliance matters. Drawing on her nearly 20 years of service to the federal government, in roles at the US Department of Justice and Department of State, Kathleen helps clients navigate the complexities of U.S. and transnational criminal liability and multijurisdictional government investigations.

Since returning to private practice, Kathleen has represented clients in a number of transnational matters, conducting global risk assessments, designing compliance programs, and...

Melanie Conroy Commercial Litigation Attorney Pierce Atwood Law Firm

Melanie Conroy focuses her practice on class action defense and complex commercial litigation. She has represented clients in connection with internal, government, and regulatory investigations, and has counseled boards of directors, board committees, and senior management on a broad range of matters, including securities, corporate governance, disclosure, and regulatory issues.

Melanie represents businesses and organizations across a wide range of industries, including life sciences, financial services, insurance, private equity, real estate, energy, media, consumer electronics, and retail apparel. Melanie regularly appears in state and federal trial courts, and is experienced in private arbitration and mediation.